“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” Acts 2:42
I’ve always considered myself a hospitable person. In fact, I’ve always shared that hospitality is a spiritual gift of mine. Anytime I take gift assessments, I easily answer the questions about how I enjoy having people in my home.
But I realized recently that things I enjoy in theory might not be similarly enjoyed in reality.
What I mean is this – I love the idea of having people in my home. I love to think about welcoming friends and family inside, guiding them to a place to sit, taking their bags and coats, offering a drink, and helping their little one get situated playing with my little one (I might also be wearing heels and pearls in this vision).
And then I wake up.
Because in this season of life, that is NOT what hospitality looks like. As much as I would love to paint a picture of perfection and order, it’s just not realistic. Now if that is what it really does look like at your house, then go you. Seriously! You go, Glenn Coco! But that’s not how it works at Baggs End, and I really don’t see that changing any time soon. That’s not to say that for special occasions (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, birthdays, or a visitor’s first time at our home (maybe)) I won’t take extra care. But that’s not the norm.
Last night, we had some dear friends over for dinner. Our first guests since I’ve gone back to work with baby #2. When we had guests during my maternity leave, I had all day to prepare the home and the meal and clothes, etc. And before maternity leave, when it was just Archer, I could still juggle things pretty well to prepare for evening guests. But last night. Let’s just say there were tears from all three of us. Combine a gassy baby, a teething toddler, and a sleep-deprived mama who had a stressful day at work – we weren’t really set up for success.
Juggle, juggle, juggle.
Not only did I completely mis-time the meal, I also completely changed the menu mid-cooking! (Why do I do these things to myself?) Added to that, 25% of our burners aren’t working, and 50% of my pots were dirty. Baby crying, Toddler crying, Mama crying. I realized mid-meal (right around the second time I had to leave the table to nurse the baby) that maybe leggings weren’t proper attire and wine wasn’t an appropriate drink, especially considering the fact that we had as our guests a pastor and his wife. *facepalm, facepalm, facepalm*
But you know what? I had completely missed the point of the hospitality. When you are hospitable, you are generous and friendly in your entertainment of your guests. And when you are hospitable in Jesus’ name, you add in some prayer and do all of it for the glory of God.
So why was I trying to make everything perfect? I can guarantee you that in my selfish state, my aim for perfection was for my own glory. And that’s exactly where I went wrong.
Because number one, our friend-guests didn’t care. It’s this weird thing where they’re human too. They juggle jobs and tiny humans and animals and expectations and realities of life where things don’t go as planned. And number two, our time together was meaningful and fruitful and honoring to the Lord.
We spent time studying the apostles’ doctrine – in the presence of our children, who we are tasked to teach. We fellowshipped and shared our lives with each other. We broke bread by intimately sharing a meal (the food turned out pretty darn good, if you ask me). And we ended our time together in prayer.
By the end of the evening, when I finally allowed myself to let it go, I was so rejuvenated in my spirit. What more could I ask for than an evening where time and food and fellowship are shared among friends, and we glorify Jesus as our primary purpose. If only I could remember to remember this at the beginning of an evening next time, rather than the end!
As I crawled in bed, with some dirty dishes left in the sink and a few items still not crossed off on my to-do list, I was reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (verse 33). I pray that the next time I invite people into my home, that I will make much of Him and remember that it’s never about me – it’s never about the beauty of my home or the enjoyment of my cooking – and it’s always, always, all about Him.